Thursday, June 9, 2011

Morning Brief: NYT reports US at war in Yemen; U.S. Department of Education admits to using SWAT team; NPR blog writer cautions press to "slow down'

The New York Times last night reported that the Obama administration has stepped "has intensified the American covert war in Yemen," Mark Mazzetti, NYT reporter wrote. If you are keeping count, that would make four wars U.S. forces are currently involved in.
According to the story, American air force jets were active in southern Yeman, reportedly killing an Al Qaeda operative, Abu Ali al-Harithi.

The United States is, according to NYT reports, working with the government of Saudi Arabia in the attacks in Yemen, and involve the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command working with the Central Intelligence Agency.

The NYT report did not include any comments from members of Congress.

The WSJ reported last night, as well, that outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what it termed a "very blunt" speech, urged other members of NATO to step up its involvement in the growing conflict in Libya.

"I have requested such broadened support either by new contributions or increased contributions or more flexible use of assets provided for the operation," Gates was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the Department of Education admitted that did indeed use a S.W.A.T. to break into the home of a Stockton, California man, but that the break in, and six hour detention was not because of student loads that were in default, but because of a criminal investigation. The DOE issued a statement that “the offices conducts raids on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds," though they would not divulge what specific criminal actions were suspected.

Media reports did not ask when the Department of Education had begun getting involved in the use of S.W.A.T. teams, or whether other departments of the federal government had now begun using such tactics.

Mark Memmott, writing on NPR's news blog, The Two-Way, says that the news media needs to "low down and let the facts become more clear" before rushing to report on the news. Admitting that NPR made the same mistake themselves in the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shooting story, Memmott said that the story involving the supposed finding of bodies on a property near Hardin, Texas – which proved false – was an example of "intense competition and instant reporting".

The story, if you are not familiar with the episode, began when police authorities got a"tip" from a psychic who said their were bodies to be found on a property. The police, and then the media, took the story, believed it, and ran with it.

During the feeding frenzy that followed, writes Memmott, the NYT sent its readers a Tweet that read "NYT NEWS ALERT: Up to 30 Dismembered Bodies Found Near Houston, Reuters Reports."